Industry Spotlight: How a PEY position led to a career in the space industry with Holly Johnson, MDA

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Engineering Council Room, Galbraith Building, Room 202
35 St. George Street

This event is open to all MIE students and faculty. Registration required (form below). Lunch will be provided.

Ten years ago, Holly Johnson (MechE 0T9) was a mechanical engineering student completing her Professional Experience Year (PEY) with MDA, Canada’s largest space company and the builder of Canadarm, a remote-controlled mechanical arm used to repair equipment and position astronauts on the Space Shuttle. Today, as the President’s Business Manager (Chief of Staff) at MDA, she travels around the world meeting with leaders of space agencies to provide technical and business input on their projects. It is a particularly exciting time to work in the space industry, and MDA specifically, as the Canadian federal government just announced a commitment to support and fund a lunar outpost.

As a co-op student, Holly was a member of the mission support team for Canadarm operations on Space shuttle missions. After graduating from MIE, Holly was hired by MDA where she worked as a systems engineer in the areas of space exploration and medical robotics including the development of technology for use in brain surgery.

In 2016, Holly received the Northern Lights Aero Foundation Rising Star Award, which honours Canadian women who have made significant contributions to their field. She went on to become the Business Development Manager of Robotics and Automation at MDA. In her current role as Chief of Staff for the company, Holly delivered the keynote address at the Canadian Space Summit in 2018.

The MIE community looks forward to welcoming the accomplished alumna back to the department to present the next Industry Spotlight where she will discuss her impressive career trajectory.

Read more: From MRI compatible robots for brain surgery, to next-generation concepts for space exploration: Q&A with MDA’s Holly Johnson



MIE’s Industry Spotlight Series provides students with the opportunity to connect with alumni and learn about their career trajectories in various fields. For more info, email


Registrations are closed for this event.

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